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NEW YORK, August 21. /TASS/. Changing geopolitical dynamics and the shift of Washington’s focus from Pakistan to India, which the US is viewing as counterweight to China, has encouraged Moscow and Islamabad that stood in a tough opposition to each other in the 1980’s over Afghanistan, "to mend fences", The Wall Street Journal said in an article published on Thursday.
"On Thursday, Pakistan said it would buy four Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters for an undisclosed price, after a spate of high-level visits between the two countries," the newspaper said, adding that a $ 2 billion natural-gas pipeline project was also in the works.
It recalled that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who attended a summit conference of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the Russian city of Ufa at the beginning of last month, said at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin he wanted a multidimensional relationship with Russia, which would encompass defence, trade and the energy sector.
WSJ quoted a former senior Pakistani diplomat saying Pakistan had decided it was no longer an American client state. "Pakistan has decided that although America will remain important, it must have other alternatives," said the diplomat, Zafar Hilaly.
The 1,100 kilometers-long pipeline that will be built by the Russian government-owned amalgamation Rostec is the most graphic symbol of the rising new relationship between Pakistan and Russia, the article said. The pipeline will carry imported natural gas from Karachi to Lahore, a major city in the country’s east, thus helping Pakistan cope with the current energy shortages.
The new pipeline is to be completed by 2018. It will be able to carry 2 billion cubic feet of gas a day. This is equivalent to about a half of Pakistan’s current gas production from its domestic fields.
"The Russian pipeline would represent Moscow’s first major project in Pakistan since the early 1970s, when the Soviet Union helped build a steel mill in Karachi during a brief warming of relations that followed the election of a left-leaning leader in Islamabad," the WSJ said. "The two countries are now discussing ways that Russia can upgrade the mill, Pakistani officials said."
According to the WSJ, Rostec officials say the amalgamation will raise the funds needed to the pipeline project.